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Old 09-04-2018, 07:44 AM
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The story of Typhoid Mary -- now with correction!


We are re-running the Staff Report on Typhoid Mary, now with a correction supplied by Phillip Jones, a researcher who has become fascinated with the case and the broader implications of it, not just in terms of epidemiology but also civil rights.

https://www.straightdope.com/columns...-typhoid-mary/

Thanks to Mr. Jones, who supplied us with the memoirs of Dr. George Soper of the New York Board of Health, who was the primary "detective" on the case.

Typhoid Mary remains a public health story: When does the right of the individual give way to the needs of the greater community? The view has changed somewhat since Mary's time but the problem remains.

Your comments are, as always, solicited.

(Mods, if you feel this is a greater issue that needs to go to another forum rather than Comments, that's understood. But it did start with a Staff Report, so CCC/SR.)

Jenny
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Last edited by TubaDiva; 09-04-2018 at 07:47 AM. Reason: speling
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Old 09-04-2018, 09:51 AM
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Once she was made aware of the situation but yet insisted on carrying on her cooking career anyway, she became a criminal as far as I'm concerned.

Quote:
In 1910, promising to remain a laundress and never return to cooking, Mary was released. She changed her name to Mary Brown and got a job as a cook. For the next five years, she went through a series of kitchens, spreading illness and death, keeping one step ahead of the frustrated Dr. Soper.
Unless murder has become a "civil right", life in prison for murder seems pretty reasonable to me.
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:05 AM
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Would someone please clarify the civil rights aspect Was there a law saying that carriers were to be quarantined until such time as they posed no threat? If so, and that determination was to be made by public health officials, I'm confused as to how her civil rights were violated.
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Old 09-04-2018, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by nelliebly View Post
Would someone please clarify the civil rights aspect Was there a law saying that carriers were to be quarantined until such time as they posed no threat? If so, and that determination was to be made by public health officials, I'm confused as to how her civil rights were violated.
IIRC there are laws on the books even today that in the name of public health that contagious/carriers of disease can be quarrantined.
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Old 09-04-2018, 06:36 PM
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Quarantine regulations have clearly spelled out legal procedures that need to be followed. I'm not sure of the specific laws in NY during Mary's time, but here's an excerpt from a good discussion of modern practices (with my bolding)

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In certain public health emergency situations, states have the authority to quarantine and isolate individuals in order to prevent the transmission of communicable and dangerous diseases and infections5. The Public Health Service (PHS) Act6, limited by Executive Order 13,2957, authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to declare a public health emergency and take appropriate responsive action to "prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases8." In practice, however, states and local jurisdictions assume primary responsibility for instituting public health protective measures under their Tenth Amendment "police power9." This authority has been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States10 and further bolstered by the doctrine of parens patriae11 and state constitutions12. The authority, however, is not limitless; it is tempered by individual rights and civil liberties, guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.
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. . .states are required to protect civil liberties during public health emergencies16. Quarantine and isolation orders must be conducted in accordance with substantive and procedural due process, and any restrictions of civil liberties should be legal and as minimally restrictive as reasonably possible17. To this end, states should ensure that the following five threshold requirements are met: 1. the individual must pose an actual threat to the public; 2. the intervention must be reasonable and effective; 3. it must be conducted in a manner that comports with equal protection and due process; 4. individuals must be provided with safe and comfortable conditions; and 5. reasonable compensation for loss of income must be ensured18.
So. . .Mary never got her day in court, typhoid fever is easily prevented without quarantine, she was not the only vector yet she was the only one in quarantine, and she was never compensated for her time (23 years!!) in isolation.

Sure looks like a civil rights violation to me.

mc

Last edited by mikecurtis; 09-04-2018 at 06:39 PM.
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Old 09-04-2018, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by mikecurtis View Post
Quarantine regulations have clearly spelled out legal procedures that need to be followed. I'm not sure of the specific laws in NY during Mary's time, but here's an excerpt from a good discussion of modern practices (with my bolding)





So. . .Mary never got her day in court, typhoid fever is easily prevented without quarantine, she was not the only vector yet she was the only one in quarantine, and she was never compensated for her time (23 years!!) in isolation.

Sure looks like a civil rights violation to me.

mc
Thanks for the info. That makes sense. Was it common practice to compensate people in quarantine?

Also, was preention only a matter of Mary needing to wash her hands, which she vehemently refused to do? I'm imagining her going to court and the judge ordering her to wash her hands. If she continued to refuse to do so, would she get put back in quarantine? How would it ever have been safe to let her out since she disappeared when she lied and said she'd become a laundress?

It's a fascinating case, though a depressing one.
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Old 09-05-2018, 11:03 AM
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The current version of the staff report fits in with my knowledge of the case.

So what was the correction?
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Old 09-05-2018, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
The current version of the staff report fits in with my knowledge of the case.

So what was the correction?
If you click on the memoirs, he writes, "There was no autopsy." The original Staff Report mentions an autopsy.
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Old 10-16-2018, 06:21 PM
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Sorry, too hung over (lazy) to read the article but how does a carrier go on living a healthy life? I remember in Believe it or Not with Jack Palance, the host said her gall bladder was suspected but she steadfastly refused surgery.

Don't look now. Unclassified reports will come out as to how carriers can be weaponized.
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Old 10-18-2018, 01:32 PM
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She was apparently asymptomatic but infectious. Not unheard of.

See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5830799

Jenny
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